State Audit Agency examines flaws in E-Health project

In a utility revision, the State Audit Agency (VK) has pointed out that the so-called E-Health (e-veselība) project has been planned and managed incompetently, and has pointed out that the state risks having to return the €11.3m EU funding for the project, announced Controller General Elita Krūmiņa on Tuesday, saying that a total of €14.5m have been invested in the project.

The project is related to the implementation of information technology in healthcare, and it was started nine years ago by the Health Ministry (VM).

VK has notified that the project, dubbed E-Health in Latvia, was started without researching the healthcare sector as a whole.

As a result, the implementation plan of the E-Health system has been of little help to those who should carry it out. Furthermore, the plan had been put together without the involvement of healthcare professionals and IT specialists.

That's why both VM and the National Health Department (NVD), which was responsible for carrying the project out, were clueless as to what the E-Health system in Latvia will look like and what should be done to materialize it.

VK cites further mishaps in formulating the goals of the project and the way the project managers would be supervised, along with problems in communicating with the government and the society. 

Even though the E-Health system should be operational by January 2016, the Health Ministry has confirmed that only 20% of the 31 e-services that were planned to be implemented will be operational by October 2016. Even though the project was started nine years ago, not a single service is operational yet.

It includes e-recipes (five services) and out-of-work forms (one service). Almost half of the activities planned in the project haven't been started yet.

The audit agency notes that there's a risk that the EU funding for the project is pronounced to have been used inappropriately, in which case the state will have to return the funds. 

This information follows a story by De Facto investigative news show that shows Latvia may stand to lose millions in EU funding for a toxic waste clean-up project due to similar management problems. 

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